Now is a great opportunity to get out and explore our own backyard. We are lucky enough in New Zealand to have a lot of great things to do, places to see and places to stay. We’ve put together our list of some of the best New Zealand activities, so go and check out some of the places all our international visitors rave about.
Top 10 North Island bucket list experiences you must do
1. Hike the Tongariro Crossing
2. Climb the Paekakariki Escarpment Track
3. Fly through untouched native forest
4. Sandboard down the Te Paki Sand Dunes
5. Go zorbing in a giant inflatable ball
6. Discover underground caves black water rafting
7. Explore geothermal landscapes
8. Get a bit of culture at Te Papa
9. Camp at Hot Water Beach
10. Unplug with a bit of glamping
Hike the Tongariro Crossing
First on the ultimate North Island bucket list is the Tongariro Crossing. It's one of the most popular day hikes in New Zealand, and for good reason. There are three huge volcanoes (Tonagriro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu), stunning emerald and blue lakes, and a landscape that varies from something like the surface of the moon to rivers and forest. The hike usually takes around 8 hours, but make sure you’re prepared for all weather, it can get pretty chilly at the summit, even in the middle of summer.
Photo: The Tongariro Crossing - one of the best day walks in the world
Climb the Paekakariki Escarpment Track
Just outside of Wellington is the Paekakariki Escarpment Track, known as New Zealand’s Stairway to Heaven and definitly one for the North Island bucket list! You’ll need a decent level of fitness for this 10km walk as there are over 400 stairs to climb and you’ll reach up to 220 metres above sea level, but it will all be worth it. The highlight of this walk has got to be the simply breathtaking views out to Kapiti Island.
Photo: The spectacular views will be worth the walk on New Zealand's stairway to heaven
Fly through untouched native forest
Next up on the North Island bucket list is an adventure like no other with Rotorua Canopy Tours. The 3.5 hour Ultimate Canopy Tour was designed to be the best zipline experience in the world and has some incredible features that will blow you away. Glide across wide open valleys, deep gorges, race your friends down a tandem zipline and admire breath-taking views from 50m above the forest floor on the iconic clifftop walk. As you become a part of the conservation story you'll loose yourself in this untouched forest. Create memories that will last a lifetime on this ultimate adventure.
Photo: The Ultimate Canopy Tour is the best way to experience ancient New Zealand forest with Rotorua Canopy Tours
Sandboard down the Te Paki Sand Dunes
If you’re after a bit of thrill seeking – sandboarding down the massive sand dunes at Te Paki is a North Island bucket list must! These epic sand dunes are right at the top of New Zealand near Cape Reinga and can tower over 150 metres high. If you're not so keen on the sandboarding they are still a remarkable sight and there's fantastic panoramic views from the top. Visiting the Te Paki sand dunes is definitely a bucket list activity - and there's no entry fee, you just need to hire a sandboard.
Photo: You'll have so much fun sliding down the giant Te Paki sand dunes
Go zorbing in a giant inflatable ball
If you’re after a unique North Island bucket list experience, zorbing might be just the thing. It was created right here in Rotorua New Zealand back in the 90's, so there’s nothing more kiwi than rolling down the hill in a giant inflatable ball. You’ll be guaranteed a laugh if you jump in with two friends or you can race down their straight track. They have four tracks to choose from including the longest track in the world.
Photo: Zorbing is a fantastic kiwi experience like no other
Discover underground caves black water rafting
The next activity on our North Island bucket list is a truly unique experience for an adventure lover. The 3-hour adventure black water rafting through the Waitomo Caves is epic. The tour begins with an incredible abseil into the caves, before tubing down an underground river. There are thrilling spots navigating underground waterfalls, as well as a bit of time to relax as you admire the glow worms above and your incredible guides tell you about how the caves were formed and share stories of local Maori legends.
Photo: Explore below ground on a black water rafting adventure you'll never forget
Explore geothermal landscapes
Waimangu is the world’s youngest geothermal system, formed after the Tarawera volcanic eruption in 1886 and has been virtually untouched since. You’ll feel as if you’ve journeyed back in time as you explore the valley through different walks and hikes for all ages and abilities. You can also take a 45-minute boat cruise across Lake Rotomahana to the site where the pink and white terraces once stood.
Photo: See some of the most unique landscapes in the world at Waimangu
Get a bit of culture at Te Papa
Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand is definitely a must visit. There are six storeys to explore covering all things Aotearoa. And if you think museums normally aren’t your thing, Te Papa might just surprise you with their contemporary, clever and bicultural approach – and its free!
Photo: You can spend hours exploring the 6 floors of our New Zealand's national museum
Camp at Hot Water Beach
Camping is a kiwi favourite so its a must for any North Island bucket list. Hot Water Beach Top 10 is the perfect camping spot in the Coromandel, located just 700m from one of the great New Zealand beaches - Hot Water Beach. They have a range of accommodation options from traditional camping to deluxe villas. It’s a prime position to explore such a picturesque region of New Zealand. Visit the magical Cathedral Cove or soak in a hot pool you’ve created with your own hands at Hot Water Beach - just be sure to check on the tide schedule before heading out.
Photo: Build your very own hot pool and listen to the waves roll in at Hot Water Beach
Unplug with a bit of glamping
Our final North Island bucket list must do is glamping! We are so lucky in New Zealand to have a lot of stunning landscapes all around us and glamping is the perfect unique escape to somewhere private and outdoorsy. Our top pick is the breath-taking Te Tuhi Dome, just 15 minutes from Taupo perched in farm land overlooking the majestic lake. Check out Canopy Camping for more special places off the beaten track.
Photo: Enjoy some of New Zealand's glamping gems off the beaten track
Check out more Things to do in New Zealand.